BACH: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F, BWV 1046. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F, BWV 1047. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G, BWV 1048. Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G, BWV 1049. Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in G, BWV 1050. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat, BWV 1051.
Munich Bach Orch/Karl Richter, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DVD VIDEO B0005914 TT: 99 min.
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NEW YEAR'S CONCERT 2006
VERDI: La forza del destino Overture. O Signore del tetto matio and La mia letizia infondere from I Lombardi. Va pensiero from Nabucco. Libiamo de' lieti calici from La traviata. MOZART: Marriage of Figaro Overture. Là di darem la mano from Don Giovanni. PUCCINI: Vissi d'arte from Tosca. DONIZETTI: Don Pasquale Overture. Una furtiva lagrima from L'elisir d'amore.
Fiorenza Cedolins, soprano; Joseph Calleja, tenor; Roberto Scandiuzzi, bass; Chorus and Orchestra of La Fenice/Kurt Masur, cond.
TDK DVD VIDEO DVWW-CONYC6V TT: 55 min.
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ENRICO CARUSO - LEGENDARY VISIONS
Video documentary about Enrico Caruso directed by Peter Rosen originally televised in A&E Network's Biography series, also My Cousin, a 1918 silent film feature starring Caruso, plus a CD of Caruso's recordings of music heard in the documentary
RCA RED SEAL DVD VIDEO 82876-57906 TT: 93:42 & 46:58 (CD)
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Deutsche Grammophon's DVD of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos is a welcome addition to the catalog. Karl Richter (1926-1981), a master of the composer's music, seen in an April 1970 recording, masterful, energetic performances that have been famous with collectors ever since their original issue. Richter conducts from the harpsichord, and the soloists are magnificent, particularly trumpeter Pierre Thibaud in the second concerto. Filmed in the baroque splendor of Munich's Schloss Schleilsheim, under Arne Arnborn's direction the cameras are always in an appropriate place—with a bit too many super-closeups to suit my taste. Sonics are rich, although the harpsichord lacks a bit of brilliance. This is advertised as DTS 5.l surround sound, but this has been artificially (and effectively) created via the AMSI II system. Also released on DVD are Richter's performances of the Mass in B minor (B0005908), Saint John Passion (B0005915) and Saint Matthew Passion (B0006177). Recommended!

TDK's issue of the 2006 New Year's Concert from Teatro La Fenice is strange in many ways. This, the third of the theater's such events, was televised live to an audience of more than 5 million in Italy alone. The music has little to do with the usual New Year's festivities—not even one of the Strausses is heard—and the program notes go to great lengths to point out that part of some of the music is in three-quarter time. Soloists are excellent. Soprano Cedolins is one of the most interesting younger singers on the operatic scene (her roles include Salome), and it's a pleasure to hear tenor Calleja, another rising star of today. Kurt Masur is in firm control of the proceedings and everyone seems to be having a great time. Andrea Bevilacqua's video direction offers many rapid-moving shots of the audience and hall. Eleonara Abbagnato and Roberto Bolle briefly dance to music from Verdi's La traviata—doubtless unseen by those at the concert—and having nothing to do with the proceedings. Sonics are excellent, but playing time is only 55 minutes. Surely there was more music presented at this concert—why wasn't it included? This is an odd release.

Enrico Caruso is subject of another of RCA's Legendary Visions series with a 1988 DVD documentary originally televised on the A&E network, including interviews with Plácido Domingo, Beverly Sills and Luciano Pavarotti, along with many video clips of the tenor. Also we have a 1918 silent film in which the famed tenor portrays a famous opera singer as well as his cousin, a sculptor—a film that adds nothing to Caruso's legacy. The CD contains Caruso's Victor recordings of the arias featured in the documentary. One might wonder why RCA chose to limit the playing time of the CD to 46:58; they easily could have included many more. Subtitles are available only in Japanese.

R.E.B. (April 2006)
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